The reality of being homeless in winter

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The cold winter months serve as a reminder that some people are without homes. Some homeless people in Rapid City were candid enough to share the reality of what it’s like when temperatures drop dangerously low.

Basic needs to survive and a helping hand are in high demand, especially in winter. The Cornerstone Rescue Mission helps with temporary housing and various services along with the HOPE Center – a day center that helps people get back on track.

Fifty-year-old Thomas Lee Tesch has been homeless for more than 10 years, but he is hopeful for better days ahead.

“I don’t think anyone’s hopeless out there – I’m not,” said Tesch.

There are hundreds of people in Rapid City and the surrounding areas in need of shelter from the cold. Cornerstone Rescue Mission’s Executive Director Lysa Allison says the nonprofit organization has reached capacity, but no one is turned away.

“I think we’ve got 140-150 [people],” said Allison. “I know I’ve got at least got at least 40 people sleeping on the floor and that’s pretty typical.”

The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and Rapid City Police Department also assist in patrolling public areas to ensure that no one is left behind in the cold. Due to Cornerstone’s zero tolerance for alcohol or drug use, people can be transported to a detox center as well.

Eighteen-year-old Isaiah Schrybers says that no matter what the weathers conditions are, overcoming homelessness is never easy. But he remains optimistic.

“I have slept outside almost all the time, because no one would help me with my disabilities,” said Schrybers. “The Cornerstone is a great place. I’m actually hoping to get a place of my own soon.”

Law enforcement, city officials, and various organizations in the area are making a collective effort to combat homelessness. The RCPD is asking members of the community to call 605-394-4131 if they see anyone at risk of exposure to the cold.

Members of the homeless community passionately offer advice as Rapid City and the surrounding areas continue to combat homelessness.

“I wish they could be more understanding and that’s pretty much that,” said Tesch.

Schryber says that if you “see someone who’s on the street, offer a place in your heart for them and pray for them.”

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